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Full text of "Directory for the application of the decisions of the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican concerning ecumenical matters, May 14, 1967, Part I"

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14, 1967 






May 14, 1967 



1. "The concern for restoring unity involves the whole 
Church, faithful and clergy alike. It extends to everyone, according 
to the talent of each. . . .' n The Ecumenical Directory is being 
published to encourage and guide this concern for unity, so that 
what was promulgated in this field by the decrees of the Second 
Vatican Council may be better put into practice throughout the 
Catholic Church. This must be done in a manner faithful to the 
mind of the Church. "Ecumenical activity cannot be other than 


fully and sincerely Catholic, that is loyal to the truth we have re- 
ceived from the Apostles and the Fathers, and in harmony with the 
faith which the Catholic Church has always professed, and at the 
same time tending toward that fullness in which our Lord wants 
His Body to grow in the course of time." 2 

2. The Decree on Ecumenism insists in a number of places 
that it is the business of the Apostolic See and the bishops, with due 
regard for the rights of Patriarchs and their synods, to decide 
ecumenical policy after taking all circumstances into account. 3 
Proper care must be taken in these matters so that the ecumenical 
movement itself is not impeded and the faithful do not suffer harm 
due to the danger of false irenicism or indifferentism. This is a 
pastoral care, which will be the more effective as the faithful be- 
come more solidly and fully instructed in the teaching and 
authentic tradition both of the Catholic Church and of the churches 
and communities separated from her. Against the dangers and 
harm that may arise, this accurate knowledge of teachings and 
traditions will be a better safeguard than the kind of ignorance 
which is often reinforced by false fear: fear of those adjustments 
which, in accordance with the spirit and decisions of the Second 
Vatican Council, are necessary to any genuine renewal of the 

Ecumenical movement begins with the renewal by which the 
Church expresses more fully and perfectly the truth and holiness 
which comes from Christ Our Lord. Everyone of the faithful, as 
a member of the Church, should share in this renewal in truth and 
charity so as to grow in faith, hope and charity and bear witness 
in the Church to God and our Saviour Jesus Christ by his own 
Christian life. 

Since this movement has been set on foot by the Holy Spirit, 
what follows here is put forward with the intention and in a manner 
to be of service to the bishops in putting into effect the Decree on 
Ecumenism, "without obstructing the ways of divine Providence, 
and without prejudging the future inspirations of the Holy Spirit" 4 



A. The Diocesan Commission 

3. It seems very suitable to set up a council, commission or 
secretariat, either for several dioceses grouped together or, where 
circumstances call for it, in each diocese, charged to promote ecu- 
menical activity by the episcopal conference or of the local 
Ordinary. In those dioceses which cannot have their own commis- 
sion there should at least be one person delegated by the bishop 
for these duties. 

4. This commission should cooperate with such ecumenical 
institutions or enterprises as already exist or may be launched, 
making use of their help where occasion offers. It should also be 
prompt to help other diocesan work and individual initiative, by 
exchanging information and ideas with those concerned, to mutual 
advantage. This should all be done in harmony with the principles 
and general norms already existing in this matter. 

5. To make clearer and foster better the concern for unity 
which belongs to the Church as a whole, where possible the com- 
mission should include among its members not only diocesan 
clergy but also Religious of both sexes and suitable laymen and 

6. Besides the other functions assigned to it, the commission 

a) Put into practice, according to local situations, the de- 
cisions of Vatican II on ecumenical affairs; 

b) Foster spiritual ecumenism according to the principles 
laid down in the Decree on Ecumenism (see especially n. 8) 
about public and private prayer for the unity of Christians; 


c) Promote friendliness, cooperation and charity between 
Catholics and their brothers who are not in their communion; 

d) Initiate and guide dialogue with them, bearing in mind 
the adaptation to be made to the types of participants according 
to nn. 9 and 1 1 of the Decree on Ecumenism; 

e) Promote in common with our separated brethren joint 
witness to the Christian faith as well as cooperation in such areas 
as e.g., in education, morality, social and cultural matters, learning 
and the arts. 5 

f) Appoint experts to undertake discussions and consulta- 
tions with the other churches and communities in the diocese; 

g) Offer help and encouragement for the instruction and edu- 
cation to be given to clergy and laity and for conducting one's life 
in an ecumenical spirit, with special emphasis being given to pre- 
paring seminary students, to preaching, catechetics and other kinds 
of teaching dealt with in the Decree on Ecumenism, n. 10; 

h) Maintain relations with the territorial ecumenical com- 
mission, (see below) adapting the latter's advice and recom- 
mendations to local diocesan conditions, and, in addition, when 
circumstances suggest, useful information should be sent to the 
Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome, which can 
help the latter in carrying on its own work. 

B. The Territorial Commission 

7. Each national episcopal conference* and also those which, 
according to circumstances, include more than one nation — should 
establish in accordance with their own statutes a commission of 
bishops for ecumenical affairs assisted by experts. This commis- 
sion should have a mandate from the episcopal conference of the 
territory to give guidance in ecumenical affairs and determine con- 

* References in this directory to "episcopal conference" also apply, with 
due consideration for the requirements of law, to the patriarchal synods and 
synods of major archbishops in the Catholic Eastern Churches. 


crete ways of acting in accordance with the Decree on Ecumenism 
and with other ordinances and legitimate customs, taking account 
of the time, place and persons they are concerned with but also 
of the good of the universal Church. If possible, this commission 
should be assisted by a permanent secretariat. 

8. The functions of this commission will include all those 
listed under n. 6 insofar as they enter into the competence of a 
territorial episcopal conference. In addition let it carry out other 
tasks, of which some examples are given here: 

a) Putting into practice the rules and instructions issued by 
the Apostolic See in these matters; 

b) Giving advice and assistance to the bishops who are set- 
ting up an ecumenical commission in their own dioceses; 

c) Giving spiritual and material help where possible to both 
existing ecumenical institutions and to ecumenical enterprises to be 
promoted either in the field of instruction and research or in that 
of pastoral care and the promotion of Christian life according to 
the principles set out in the Decree on Ecumenism, nn. 9 to 11; 

d) Establishing dialogue and consultation with the leaders 
and with ecumenical councils of the other churches and communi- 
ties which exist on a national or territorial (as distinct from 
diocesan) scale; 

e) Appointing of those experts who, by a public mandate of 
the Church are designated for the conversations and consultations 
with experts of the communities referred to under (d) above; 

f) Setting up, if need be, a special subcommission for ecu- 
menical relations with the Easterns; 

g) Maintaining relations between the territorial hierarchy and 
the Holy See. 



9. The Church's practice in this matter is governed by two 
principles: that Baptism is necessary for salvation, and that it can 
be conferred only once. 

10. The ecumenical importance of Baptism is clear from 
documents of the Second Vatican Council: "He Himself (Jesus 
Christ) in explicit terms affirmed the necessity of faith and Bap- 
tism, and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for 
through Baptism as through a door men enter the Church." 7 

"The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with 
those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of 
Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do 
not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter." 8 

"For men who believe in Christ and have been properly bap- 
tized are brought into a certain, though imperfect, communion 
with the Catholic Church ... all who have been justified by faith 
in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right 
to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as 
brothers by the children of the Catholic Church." 9 

"On the other hand, Catholics must gladly acknowledge and 
esteem the truly Christian endowments from our common heritage 
which are to be found among our separated brethren." 10 

1 1 . Baptism is, then, the sacramental bond of unity, indeed 
the foundation of communion among all Christians. Hence its 
dignity and the manner of administering it are matters of great 


importance to all Christ's disciples. Yet a just evaluation of the 
sacrament and the mutual recognition of each other's Baptisms 
by different communities is sometimes hindered because of a 
reasonable doubt about the Baptism conferred in some particular 
case. To avoid difficulties which may arise when some Christian 
separated from us, led by the grace of the Holy Spirit and by his 
conscience, seeks full communion with the Catholic Church, the 
following guiding principles are put forward: 

12. There can be no doubt cast upon the validity of Baptism 
as conferred among separated Eastern Christians.* It is enough 
therefore to establish the fact that Baptism was administered. Since 
in the Eastern Churches the sacrament of Confirmation (Chrism) is 
always lawfully administered by the priest at the same time as 
Baptism, it often happens that no mention is made of the confirma- 
tion in the canonical testimony of Baptism. This does not give 
grounds for doubting that the sacrament was conferred. 

13. In respect of other Christians a doubt can sometimes 


a) Concerning matter and form. Baptism by immersion, 
pouring or sprinkling, together with the Trinitarian formula is of 
itself valid. 11 Therefore if the rituals and liturgical books or estab- 
lished customs of a church or community prescribe one of these 
ways of baptizing, doubt can only arise if it happens that the 
minister does not observe the regulations of his own community 
or church. What is necessary and sufficient, therefore, is evidence 
that the minister of Baptism was faithful to the norms of his own 
community or church. 

For this purpose generally one should obtain a written bap- 
tismal certificate with the name of the minister. In many cases the 
other community may be asked to cooperate in establishing whether 
or not, in general or in a particular case, a minister is to be con- 
sidered as having baptized according to the approved ritual. 

* With regard to all Christians, consideration should be given to the 
danger of invalidity when Baptism is administered by sprinkling, especially 
of several people at once. 


b) Concerning faith and intention. Because some consider 
that insufficiency of faith or intention in the minister can create 
a doubt about Baptism, these points should be noted: 

— The minister's insufficient faith never of itself makes 
Baptism invalid. 

— Sufficient intention in a baptizing minister is to be pre- 
sumed unless there is serious ground for doubting that he intends 
to do what Christians do. 12 

c) Concerning the application of the matter. Where doubt 
arises about the application of the matter, both reverence for the 
sacrament and respect for the ecclesial nature of the other com- 
munities demand that a serious investigation of the community's 
practice and of the circumstances of the particular Baptism be 
made before any judgment is passed on the validity of a Baptism 
by reason of its manner of administration. 13 

14. Indiscriminate conditional Baptism of all who desire full 
communion with the Catholic Church cannot be approved. The 
sacrament of Baptism cannot be repeated 14 and therefore to bap- 
tize again conditionally is not allowed unless there is prudent doubt 
of the fact, or of the validity, of a Baptism already administered. 15 

15. If after serious investigation as to whether the Baptism 
was properly administered, a reasonable doubt persists, and it is 
necessary to baptize conditionally, the minister should maintain 
proper regard for the doctrine that Baptism is unique by a) suit- 
ably explaining both why he is in this case baptizing conditionally 
and what is the significance of the rite of conditional baptism; 
b) carrying out the rite according to the private form. 10 

16. The whole question of the theology and practice of Bap- 
tism should be brought up in dialogue between the Catholic Church 
and the other separated churches or communities. It is recom- 
mended that ecumenical commissions should hold such discussions 
with churches or councils of churches in various regions and, where 
convenient, come to a common agreement in this matter. 


17. Out of reverence for the sacrament of initiation which 
the Lord instituted for the new covenant, and in order to clarify 
what is necessary for its proper administration, it is most desirable 
that dialogue with our separated brethren be not restricted to the 
sole question of what elements are absolutely necessary for valid 
Baptism. Attention should also be given to the fullness of the 
sacramental sign and of the reality signified (or "res sacramenti ') , 
as these emerge from the New Testament; this will make it easier 
for churches to reach an agreement on mutual recognition of 

18. Placing a proper value on the Baptism conferred by 
ministers of the churches and ecclesial communities separated from 
us has ecumenical importance; Baptism is thereby really revealed 
as the "sacramental bond of unity binding all who are regenerated 
by it." 17 * Therefore it is to be hoped that all Christians will 
grow continually more reverent and faithful in their regard for what 
the Lord instituted concerning its celebration. 

19. The Decree on Ecumenism makes clear that me brethren 
born and baptized outside the visible communion of the Catholic 
Church should be carefully distinguished from those who, though 
baptized in the Catholic Church, have knowingly and publicly 
abjured her faith. According to the decree (n. 3) "one cannot 
charge with the sin of separation those who at present are born 
into these communities and in them are brought up in the faith 
of Christ." Hence, in the absence of such blame, if they freely wish 
to embrace the Catholic faith, they have no need to be absolved 
from excommunication, but after making profession of their faith 
according to the regulations set down by the Ordinary of the place 
they should be admitted to the full communion of the Catholic 

* Cf. also the Report of the Mixed Commission between the Roman 
Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches (Oss. Rom. Feb. 20, 
1966, p. 7): The Report of the Fourth International Conference on "Faith 
and Order," Montreal, 1963, nn. Ill, 113, and 154. 


Church. What canon 2314 prescribes is only applicable to those 
who, after culpably giving up the Catholic faith or communion, 
repent and ask to be reconciled with mother Church. 

20. What has just been said of absolution from censures ob- 
viously applies for the same reason to the abjuring of heresy. 



21. "This change of heart and holiness of life, along with 
public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be 
regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits 
the name, 'spiritual ecumenism.' " 18 

In these few words the decree defines spiritual ecumenism and 
stresses its importance in order that Christians may, both in prayer 
and in the celebration of the Eucharist and indeed in their entire 
daily life, carefully keep in view the aim of unity. Every Christian, 
even though he does not live among separated brethren, always 
and everywhere has his part in this ecumenical movement, through 
restoring the whole Christian life according to the spirit of the 
Gospel, as has been taught by the Second Vatican Council — leav- 
ing out nothing of the common Christian heritage. 19 

22. It is fitting that prayers for unity be offered regularly 
at fixed times, e.g.: 

a) The week from January 18-25, called the Week of Prayer 
for Christian Unity, in which often many churches and com- 
munities join in praying to God for unity; 

b) The days from the Ascension to Pentecost, which com- 
memorate the community at Jerusalem waiting and praying for the 
coming of the Holy Spirit to confirm them in unity and universal 

Additional examples are: 

a) The days about the Epiphany, when we commemorate the 
manifestation of Christ in the world and the link connecting the 
Church's function with unity; 


b) Maundy Thursday, when we commemorate the institution 
of the Eucharist, the sacrament of unity, and Christ our Saviour's 
prayer in the supper room for the Church and for her unity; 

c) Good Friday, or the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy 
Cross, when we commemorate the mystery of the Holy Cross — by 
which the scattered sons of God are reunited; 

d) Easter, when all Christians share with one another the joy 
of Our Lord's Resurrection; 

e) On the occasion of meetings or other important events of 
ecumenical origin or specially likely to serve ecumenical purposes. 

23. "It is a recognized custom for Catholics to meet for 
frequent recourse to prayer for the unity of the Church with which 
the Saviour Himself on the eve of His death so fervently appealed 
to His Father That they may all be one.' " 20 Therefore, let all 
pray for unity in a way consonant with Christ's prayer at the Last 
Supper: that all Christians may achieve "that fullness of unity 
which Jesus Christ wishes." 21 

24. Pastors should see to it that, as circumstances of places 
and persons suggest, gatherings of Catholic faithful are arranged 
to pray for unity; and since the Holy Eucharist is that marvelous 
sacrament "by which the unity of the Church is signified and 
brought about," 22 it is very valuable to remind the faithful of its 
importance; public prayers for Christian unity should be en- 
couraged at Mass (e.g., during the Prayer of the Faithful or in the 
litanies called Ecteniae ) as well as the celebration of votive Masses 
for Christian unity. Further those rites which have special liturgical 
prayers of petition, like the "Litia" and "Moleben" and similar 
supplications can properly use them to pray for unity. 



A, Introduction 

25. Fraternal charity in the relations of daily life is not enough 
to foster the restoration of unity among all Christians. It is right 
and proper that there should also be allowed a certain "communi- 
catio in spiritualibus" — i.e., that Christians should be able to share 
that spiritual heritage they have in common, in a manner and to a 
degree permissible and appropriate in their present divided state. 
From those elements and endowments which together go to build 
up and give life to the Church herself, some, even very many, can 
exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church. 23 These 
elements "which come from Christ and lead to Him rightly belong 
to the one Church of Christ"; 24 they can contribute appropriately 
to our petitioning for the grace of unity; they can manifest and 
strengthen the bonds which still bind Catholics to their separated 

26. But these spiritual endowments are found in different 
ways in the several Christian communities, and sharing in spiritual 
activity and resources cannot be independent of this diversity; its 
treatment must vary according to the conditions of the people, 
churches and communities involved. For present conditions the 
following guiding principles are offered: 

27. There should be regard for a certain give-and-take 
("reciprocity") if sharing in spiritual activity and resources, even 
within defined limits, is to contribute, in a spirit of mutual good 
will and charity, to the growth of harmony among Christians. 
Dialogues and consultations on the subject between Catholic local 


or territorial authorities and those of other communions are 
strongly recommended. 

28. In some places and with some communities, sects and 
persons, the ecumenical movement and the wish for peace with the 
Catholic Church have not yet grown strong, 25 and so this reciprocity 
and mutual understanding are more difficult; the local Ordinary or, 
if need be, the episcopal conference may indicate suitable measures 
for preventing the dangers of indifferentism and proselytism * 
among their faithful in these circumstances. It is to be hoped, 
however, that through the grace of the Holy Spirit and the prudent 
pastoral care of the bishops, ecumenical feeling and mutual regard 
will so increase both among Catholics and among their separated 
brethren that the need for these special measures will gradually 

29. The term, sharing of spiritual activity and resources 
(communicatio in spiritualibus) is used to cover all prayer offered 
in common, common use of sacred places and objects, as well as 
all sharing in liturgical worship (communicatio in sacris) in the 
strict sense. 

30. There is "communicatio in sacris" when anyone takes 
part in the liturgical worship or in the sacraments of another church 
or ecclesial community. 

31. By "liturgical worship" is meant worship carried out 
according to the books, prescriptions or customs of a church or 
community, celebrated by a minister or delegate of such church 
or community, in his capacity as minister of that community. 

B. Prayer in Common 

32. "In certain special circumstances, such as prayer services 
'for unity' and during ecumenical gatherings, it is allowable, indeed 

* The word "proselytism" is here used to mean a manner of behaving, 
contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, which makes use of dishonest methods 
to attract men to a community — e.g., by exploiting their ignorance or 
poverty (cf. Declaration on Religious Liberty, n. 4). 


desirable that Catholics should join in prayer with their separated 
brethren. Such prayers in common are certainly a very effective 
means of petitioning for the grace of unity, and they are a genuine 
expression of the ties which still bind Catholics to their separated 
brethren." 26 The decree is dealing with prayers in which members 
and even ministers of different communities take an "active" part. 
Where Catholics are concerned, this kind of participation is com- 
mitted to the guidance and encouragement of local Ordinaries. The 
following points should be noted. 

33. It is to be hoped that Catholics and their other brethren 
will join in prayer for any common concern in which they can and 
should cooperate — e.g., peace, social justice, mutual charity among 
men, the dignity of the family and so on. The same may be said 
of occasions when according to circumstances a nation or com- 
munity wishes to make a common act of thanksgiving or petition to 
God, as on a national feast day, at a time of public disaster or 
mourning, on a day set aside for remembrance of those who have 
died for their country. This kind of prayer is also recommended 
so far as is possible at times when Christians hold meetings for 
study or common action. 

34. However, common prayer should particularly be con- 
cerned with the restoration of Christian unity. It can center on, 
e.g., the mystery of the Church and her unity, Baptism as a sacra- 
mental bond of unity however incomplete, the renewal of personal 
and social life as a necessary way to achieving unity and the other 
themes set out under n. 22. 

35. The Form of the Service. 

a) Representatives of the churches or communities concerned 
should agree and cooperate in arranging such prayer — in deciding 
who should take part, what themes, hymns, Scripture readings, 
prayers and the like should be used. 

b) In such a service there is room for any reading, prayer 
and hymn which manifests the faith or spiritual life shared by all 
Christians. There is a place for an exhortation, address or Biblical 


meditation drawing on the common Christian inheritance which 
may lead to mutual good will and promote unity among Christians. 

c) It is desirable that the structure of services of this kind, 
whether confined to Catholics, or held in common with our sepa- 
rated brethren, should conform to the pattern of community prayer 
recommended by the liturgical revival. 27 

d) When services are arranged to take place in an Eastern 
church, it should be born in mind that an official liturgical form is 
considered among Orientals as particularly well adapted to prayer 
of petition; particular consideration should therefore be given to 
the liturgical order of this Church. 

36. The Place. 

a) A place should be chosen which is acceptable to all those 
taking part. Care should be taken that everything is properly pre- 
pared and conducive to devotion. 

b) Although a church building is the place in which a com- 
munity is normally accustomed to celebrating its own liturgy, there 
is nothing which in itself prevents holding the common services 
mentioned in nn. 32-35, in the church of one or other of the com- 
munities concerned if there is need for this and the local Ordinary 
approves. In fact the situation may make this the suitable thing. 

c) It should be remembered, when arranging prayer services 
with the Eastern Orthodox brethren, that all Eastern Christians 
regard the church as far and away the most suitable place for 
public prayer. 

37. Dress. 

There is nothing against the use of choir dress, where cir- 
cumstances may indicate this and there is common agreement 
among the participants. 

C. Sharing in Liturgical Worship 

38. "Yet sharing in liturgical worship (communicatio in 
sacris) is not to be considered as a means to be used indiscrimi- 
nately for the restoration of unity among Christians. There are 


two main principles upon which the practice of such common 
worship depends: First, that of the unity of the Church which 
ought to be expressed; and second, that of the sharing in means of 
grace. The expression of unity very generally forbids common 
worship. Grace to be obtained sometimes commends it." 28 

1 ) Sharing in liturgical worship with our separated Eastern brothers 

39. "Although these (Eastern) Churches are separated from 
us, yet they possess true sacraments, above all — by apostolic suc- 
cession — the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are still 
joined to us in closest intimacy. Therefore some sharing in liturgical 
worship (communicatio in sacris), given suitable circumstances and 
the approval of church authority, is not merely possible but is 
encouraged. 29 

40. Between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Churches 
separated from us there is still a very close communion in matters 
of faith; 30 moreover, "through the celebration of the Eucharist of 
the Lord in each of these Churches, the Church of God is built up 
and grows in stature" and "although separated from us, yet these 
Churches possess true sacraments, above all — by apostolic suc- 
cession — the priesthood and the Eucharist ..." 31 

This offers ecclesiological and sacramental grounds for allow- 
ing and even encouraging some sharing in liturgical worship) — even 
Eucharistic — with these churches "given suitable circumstances and 
the approval of church authority." 32 

Pastors should carefully instruct the faithful so that they will 
be clearly aware of the proper reasons for this kind of sharing in 
liturgical worship. 

41. The principles governing this sharing set out in the De- 
cree on Eastern Churches 33 should be observed with the prudence 
that the decree recommends; the norms which apply to Oriental 
Catholics apply equally to the faithful of any rite, including the 


42. It is particularly opportune that the Catholic authority, 
whether the local one, the synod or the episcopal conference, does 
not extend permission for sharing in the reception or administration 
of the sacraments of Penance, Holy Eucharist or Anointing of the 
Sick except after satisfactory consultations with the competent 
authorities (at least local ones) of the separated Oriental Church. 

43. In granting permission for sharing in the sacraments it is 
fitting that the greatest possible attention be given to "reciprocity." 

44. Besides cases of necessity, there would be reasonable 
ground for encouraging sacramental sharing if special circum- 
stances make it materially or morally impossible over a long period 
for one of the faithful to receive the sacraments in his own Church, 
so that in effect he would be deprived without legitimate reason of 
the spiritual fruit of the sacraments. 

45. Since practice differs between Catholics and other East- 
ern Christians in the matter of frequent Communion, confession 
before Communion and the Eucharistic fast, care must be taken 
to avoid scandal and suspicion among the Orthodox, created by 
Catholics not following the Orthodox usage. A Catholic who legiti- 
mately communicates with the Orthodox in the cases envisaged 
here must observe the Orthodox discipline as much as he can. 

46. Those Eastern Christians who, in the absence of sufficient 
confessors of their own church, spontaneously desire to do so may 
go to a Catholic confessor. In similar circumstances a Catholic 
may approach a confessor of an Eastern Church which is separated 
from the Apostolic Roman See. Reciprocity should be maintained 
here too. Both sides should of course take care to arouse no 
suspicion of proselytizing. 34 

47. A Catholic who occasionally, for reasons set out below 35 
attends the Holy Liturgy (Mass) on a Sunday or holy day of 
obligation in an Orthodox Church is not then bound to assist at 
Mass in a Catholic Church. It is likewise a good thing if on such 
days Catholics, who for just reasons cannot go to Mass in their own 
Church, attend the Holy Liturgy of their separated Oriental 
brethren, if this is possible. 


48. Because of the close communion between the Catholic 
Church and the separated Eastern Churches, as described above 
(n. 40), it is permissible for a member of one of the latter to act 
as godparent, together with a Catholic godparent, at the baptism of 
a Catholic infant or adult so long as there is provision for the 
Catholic education of the person being baptized, and it is clear that 
the godparent is a suitable one. A Catholic is not forbidden to 
stand as godparent in an Orthodox church, if he is so invited. In 
this case, the duty of providing for the Christian education of the 
baptized person binds in the first place the godparent who belongs 
to the Church in which the child is baptized. 

49. Brethren of other churches may act as bridesmaid or best 
man at a wedding in a Catholic church. A Catholic too can be best 
man or bridesmaid at a marriage properly celebrated among 
separated brethren. 

50. Catholics may be allowed to attend Orthodox liturgical 
services if they have reasonable grounds, e.g., arising out of a 
public office or function, blood relationships, friendships, desire 
to be better informed, etc. In such cases there is nothing against 
their taking part in the common responses, hymns, and actions of 
the Church in which they are guests. Receiving Holy Communion 
however, will be governed by what is laid down above, nn. 42 and 
44. Because of the close communion referred to earlier (n. 40) 
local Ordinaries can give permission for a Catholic to read lessons 
at a liturgical service, if he is invited. These same principles govern 
the manner in which an Orthodox may assist at services in Catholic 

51. Regarding participation in ceremonies which do not call 
for sacramental sharing the following should be observed: 

a) In ceremonies carried out by Catholics, an Oriental clergy- 
man who is representing his Church should have the place and the 
liturgical honors which Catholics of equal rank and dignity have. 

b) A Catholic clergyman present in an official capacity at an 
Orthodox service can, if it is acceptable to his hosts, wear choir 
dress or the insignia of his ecclesiastical rank. 


c) There should be meticulous regard for the outlook of the 
clergy and faithful of the Eastern Churches, as well as for their 
customs which may vary according to time, place, persons and 

52. Because sharing in sacred functions, objects and places 
with all the separated Eastern brethren is allowed for a reasonable 
cause, 36 it is recommended that with the approval of the local 
Ordinary separated Eastern priests and communities be allowed 
the use of Catholic churches, buildings and cemeteries and other 
things necessary for their religious rites, if they ask for this, and 
have no place in which they can celebrate sacred functions properly 
and with dignity. 

53. The authorities of Catholic schools and institutions 
should take care to offer Orthodox clergy every facility for giving 
spiritual and sacramental ministration to their own faithful who 
attend such schools and institutions. As far as circumstances allow, 
and with the local Ordinary's permission, these facilities can be 
offered on the Catholic premises, including the Church. 

54. In hospitals and similar institutions conducted by 
Catholics, the authorities should promptly advise the Orthodox 
priest of the presence of his faithful, and to give him facilities to 
visit the sick and administer the sacraments to them in dignified and 
reverent conditions. 

2) Sharing in Liturgical Worship with Other Separated Brethren 

55. Celebration of the sacraments is an action of the cele- 
brating community, carried out within the community, signifying 
the oneness in faith, worship and life of the community. Where 
this unity of sacramental faith is deficient, the participation of the 
separated brethren with Catholics, especially in the sacraments of 
the Eucharist, Penance and Anointing of the Sick, is forbidden. 
Nevertheless, since the sacraments are both signs of unity and 
sources of grace 37 the Church can for adequate reasons allow 
access to those sacraments to a separated brother. This may be 
permitted in danger of death or in urgent need (during persecution, 


in prisons) if the separated brother has no access to a minister of 
his own communion, and spontaneously asks a Catholic priest for 
the sacraments — so long as he declares a faith in these sacraments 
in harmony with that of the Church, and is rightly disposed. In 
other cases the judge of this urgent necessity must be the diocesan 
bishop or the episcopal conference. A Catholic in similar circum- 
stances may not ask for these sacraments except from a minister 
who has been validly ordained. 

56. A separated brother is not to act as a Scripture reader or 
to preach during the celebration of the Eucharist. The same is to 
be said of a Catholic at the celebration of the Lord's Supper or at 
the principal liturgical service of the Word held by the Christians 
who are separated from us. At other services, even liturgical ones, 
it is allowable to exercise some functions, with the previous per- 
mission of the local Ordinary and the consent of the authorities of 
the community concerned. 

57. With the exception already dealt with above (n. 48) it 
is not permissible for a member of a separated community to act 
as godparent in the liturgical and canonical sense at Baptism or 
Confirmation. The reason is that a godparent is not merely under- 
taking his responsibility for the Christian education of the person 
baptized or confirmed as a relation or friend — he is also, as a 
representative of a community of faith, standing as sponsor for the 
faith of the candidate. Equally a Catholic cannot fulfill this func- 
tion for a member of a separated community. However, because 
of ties of blood or friendship, a Christian of another communion, 
since he has faith in Christ, can be admitted with a Catholic god- 
parent as a Christian witness of the baptism. In comparable cir- 
cumstances a Catholic can do the same for a member of a separated 
community. In these cases the responsibility for the Christian edu- 
cation of the candidate belongs of itself to the godparent who is 
a member of the Church in which the candidate is baptized. Pastors 
should carefully explain to the faithful the evangelical and ecu- 
menical reasons for this regulation, so that all misunderstanding of 
it may be prevented. 


58. The separated brethren may act as "official" witnesses 
(bridesmaid or best man) at a Catholic marriage, and Catholics 
at a marriage which is properly celebrated between our separated 

59. Catholics may be allowed to attend occasionally the 
liturgical services of other brethren if they have reasonable ground, 
e.g., arising out of a public office or function, blood relationship 
or friendship, desire to be better informed, an ecumenical gathering, 
etc. In these cases, with due regard to what has been said above — 
there is nothing against Catholics taking some part in the common 
responses, hymns and actions of the community of which they are 
guests — so long as they are not at variance with Catholic faith. The 
same principles govern the manner in which our separated 
brethren may assist at services in Catholic churches. This participa- 
tion, from which reception of the Eucharist is always excluded, 
should lead the participants to esteem the spiritual riches we have 
in common and at the same time make them more aware of the 
gravity of our separations. 

60. When taking part in services which do not call for sacra- 
mental sharing, ministers of other communions may, by mutual 
consent, take a place suitable to their dignity. So too Catholic 
ministers who are present at ceremonies celebrated by other com- 
munions, may, with due regard for local customs, wear choir dress. 

61. If the separated brethren have no place in which to 
carry out their religious rites properly and with dignity, the local 
Ordinary may allow them the use of a Catholic building, cemetery 
or church. 

62. The authorities of Catholic schools and institutions 
should take care to offer to ministers of other communions every 
facility for giving spiritual and sacramental ministration to their 
own communicants who attend Catholic institutions. These minis- 
trations may be given in Catholic buildings, in accordance with the 
above, n. 61. 

63. In hospitals and similar institutions conducted by 
Catholics, the authorities in charge should promptly advise min- 


isters of other communions of the presence of their communicants 
and afford them every facility for visiting the sick and giving them 
spiritual and sacramental ministrations. 

In an audience granted to the Secretariat for Promoting 
Christian Unity, April 28, 1967, the Sovereign Pontiff, Paul VI, 
approved this directory, confirmed it by his authority and ordered 
that it be published. Anything to the contrary notwithstanding. 

Rome, May 14, 1967, Pentecost Sunday. 

Augustin Cardinal Bea 
President of the Secretariat 
for Promoting Christian Unity 

+ Jan Willebrands 
Titular Bishop of Mauriana 

Note: The Latin text of the Directory is the only official text. This transla- 
tion is provided as a service to those who consult it. 



I Decree on Ecumenism, Restoration of Unity, n. 5. 

- Decree on Ecumenism, n. 24. 
■■' Cf. n. 4, n. 8, n. 9. 

' Decree on Ecumenism, n. 24. 

5 Cf. Decree on Ecumenism, n. 12, also the Decree Ad Gentes, n. 12. 

"Cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:5. 

7 Dogm. Const, on the Church, n. 14. 

s Ibid., n. 15. 

!l Decree on Ecumenism, n. 3. 

10 Ibid., n. 4. 

II Cf. CIC, canon 758. 

12 Cf. Response of the Holy Office, Jan. 30, 1833: "It is sufficient to 
do what Christians do"; Sacred Congregation of the Council, Decrees ap- 
proved by Pius V, June 19, 1570, cited by the Provincial Council of Evreux, 
France, 1576. 

13 Cf. CIC, canon 73781. 

11 Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 732, 1. 

13 Cf. Council of Trent, S.VII, can. 4; Code of Canon Law, can. 737, 
para 1. 

10 Cf. CIC, can. 737, para 2. 

17 Decree on Ecumenism, n. 22; Dogm. Const, on the Church, n. 15. 
1K Decree on Ecumenism, n. 8. 

1! ' Cf. Decree on Ecumenism, n. 6; Decree on the Church's Missionary 
Activity, n. 36. 

20 Decree on Ecumenism, n. 8. 

21 Ibid., n. 4. 

— Decree on Ecumenism, n. 2. 

23 Decree on Ecumenism, n. 3. 

24 Ibid. 

Cf. Decree on Ecumenism, n. 19. 
2 " Decree on Ecumenism, n. 8. 

~ 7 Cf. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, nn. 30, 34, 35. 
2 * Decree on Ecumenism, n. 8. 

-"Ibid., n. 15; Cf. also the decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches, 
nn. 24-29. 

J " Decree on Ecumenism, n. 44. 
" Ibid., n. 15. 

32 Decree on Ecumenism, n. 15. 
13 Cf. nn. 26-29. 

" Cf. Note on n. 28. 

33 Cf. n. 50. 

Cf. Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches, n. 28. 
17 Cf. Decree on Ecumenism, n. 8.